Acceptance

06/13/2013

It’s often been said that we have much to learn from animals. Especially our pets, these beloved animals who have lived closely with us humans for long enough to have many things to teach us. My dog is teaching me acceptance right now.

light in the darkTen days ago I knew nothing about sudden blindness in dogs. Now I know an acronym SARD stands for Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration. It’s a canine disease that causes incurable and irreversible blindness within days, or a couple of weeks at most.

In the past few days my seven-years-young, medium sized mixed-breed spayed female dog has gone blind. Completely blind. It’s not cataracts or glaucoma which brings darkness gradually, or can be corrected. This event has been sudden and complete. It could be a side effect of the near-death starvation she suffered in her youth before I rescued her. Regardless of what caused it, she is my canine-daughter and we’re in this together.

She looks beautiful in her new pink harness with the padded breastplate and has quickly adjusted to walking briskly beside me instead of leading the way. When we get to the green off-leash space, there might be no more games of fetch but she happily runs beside me! We slow to a walk and I watch her happily stretch her limbs and smell the world. She has always been very attached to me so it’s not a huge stretch for her to stay close to me as we walk and run in her new darkness. The training of her excellent recall was time well spent, and especially now. After a good jaunt we head back towards the sidewalk and with a quick snap of leash to the harness ring at her withers, we’re off homeward. I am her ‘Seeing Eye Human’.

serenity-pendantWe’re getting used to new commands such as ‘Step Up’ and ‘Step down’ when arriving at steps or sidewalk curbs, and the harness is a huge improvement over the harmful neck-pulling that using her collar would have caused. I’m so glad I’d already taught her the command ‘Wait’ because it has helped immensely with having her pause and slow down (rather than fall down, or up) at the three stairs that lead into and out of our house.

Over the past few days, the example my dog offers has helped me go from time spent crying to understanding that everything is really okay. Blindness is, boiled down to a point, only one of the senses. Yes it is a very important one, but the lack of it does not end our lives. Life goes on. We go on. Life is all about accepting the things we cannot change.

Generating angst in ourselves, gnashing our teeth and pulling our hair, looking skyward and crying out Why?! This energy needs to be allowed out, as I did during my day of crying, but then we dry ourselves off, pick ourselves up, and step up. We must let go of the grief. Things change. Life is all about change. We realize that the sun keeps rising and life goes on. Day by day.

Remember the saying, ‘God does not make fruit grow on a limb too weak to bear its weight.’  This reminds me that God would not give me (or anyone) a challenge we cannot handle.

My beloved dog is handling her sudden blindness with grace and calm, displaying how to accept the things we cannot change.  And I am learning from her example, with gratitude.

49 responses to Acceptance

  1. 

    What a great story, Gina. So proud of you and your canine for seeing the bigger picture and sharing that with us. You both inspire me. (I especially love the part about him running next to you instead of fetching. What a metaphor.) Hugs! Jamie

    • 

      Thanks Jamie! As a health coach I know you’ll appreciate part of me feels a lesson here might be instead of throwing the ball for my dog, now I need to run to get her to run with me! A hint from On High perhaps? No more standing around? Time to get moving and enjoy running WITH my dog instead of watching her running. There are lessons and bright sides of the cloud in every situation, and an increase in my own fitness is one up-side of this life-changing event. Hugs to you my friend! xo Gina

  2. 

    Dear Gina,
    Blessings to you as you navigate this challenge and face it with love and learning. Your wonderful canine companion feels your love and support as her “Seeing eye human” and I know that you are already enjoying the new depth of closeness as is she. What sweetness for both of you and while there is a sense of loss and change, I suspect that she will get to teach you and and us through you, new ways of being where sight comes from the inside rather than the outside…
    Much love to you,
    Cathy

    • 

      Dear Cathy,
      Thank you from the depths of my heart for this truly touching comment. You are so right that there is a newfound closeness between us. I love how you put this, that she will teach me “new ways of being where sight comes from the inside rather than the outside”. Beautifully profound, that. Thank you again, so much. Your kindness and support mean the world to me.
      With love and gratitude,
      Gina

  3. 

    Oh Gina, what a beautiful story! You’re a good mom to your canine-daughter!

  4. 

    i feel sorry for your dog but it’s great to know that she’s with you, her human who will take good care of her, even if her vision has already left her. would you please post pictures of your wonderful dog? 🙂 thanks and enjoy each and every day with your precious best friend. 🙂

    • 

      Thanks for this wonderful comment! My hubby is the photographer of the family and we do have some great photos but his computer is away getting repaired, so I will absolutely do a follow-up post with some photos of her soon! Thanks again for your lovely cheer of support. Hugs to you 🙂 xo Gina

  5. 

    What a wonderful story Gina. So inspiring…thank you for sharing! 🙂 It warms my heart when I encounter animal lovers because where I’m from, the Philippines, there’s much room for people to be educated with what it truly means and what it takes to be a responsible pet owner. Often, pets are expected to be the owner’s servants, believing it is the pets’ only mission in life. It’s rare to hear stories of pet owners treating their pets the way you do. So refreshing, thank you dear! 🙂 Bless your heart and blessed is your canine-daughter!…Namaste…♥♥♥Nadine Marie♥♥♥

    • 

      It’s always wonderful to hear from you Nadine Marie! Thank you kindly for this lovely comment. I appreciate your perspective from the Philippines, where as you say there is much room for learning responsible pet ownership. Yes I firmly believe that when we adopt a pet, it is for the rest of their lives, similar to adopting a child. They have so much love to offer and things to teach us, if we simply open our hearts and our eyes to see. 🙂 Bless your heart my friend. Namaste. xo Gina

  6. 

    Thank you for sharing all of this, Gina. It is powerfully beautiful. My favorite part “I am her ‘Seeing Eye Human’.” Love it!
    Russ

    • 

      Thanks so much Russ! It has been quite the trying time, until a new peace has come over me lately. It comes from watching her adapt and accept. I can do that too!
      Hugs, Gina

  7. 

    So lovely. Your support and love must e flooding out and I know she will know every moment of it. It is sad, yet lovely to be able to give back a little of what they give us isn’t it. x

    • 

      Stephanie Jill, thank you so kindly for this lovely comment! I do believe she feels my love, as I feel hers, and it is absolutely helping us both with learning new ways of doing things. It’s just the way it has to be now, after things change. Life is never boring! Hugs, Gina

  8. 

    Gina, your sweet dog has set a shining example of how to do it. Just to accept and live gracefully, with you by her side. What a lovely story to start my day with…Thank you! xo Joanne

    • 

      That is so beautifully worded Joanne, that this sweet dog has set a ‘shining example’. A truly lovely phrase. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, and thank you for commenting! Hugs, Gina

  9. 

    Lovely. I must add that one of my hospice clients (I’m a volunteer) is blind. She continues to have interest in what is around her when she is exposed to it. When I read to her she is smiling and entranced. When we discuss her travels, she is highly engaged. I am most impressed with her wonderful sense of humor and her ready laughter.

    Hope I can be as accepting of what life sends me as your dog and my client.

    • 

      Thank you for this lovely and wise comment. Your client sounds wonderful, and is a good example of remaining engaged with life no matter what curve balls are thrown our way. Yes, I too hope I can be as accepting as your client and my dog! Hugs, Gina

  10. 

    I wonder sometimes how to take it when a pet goes blind. You are right, there is so much lesson to be learned from our beloved pets. Thank you for posting.

    • 

      Yes I too am still working on ‘how to take it’ and not allow myself to become sad, for I choose to remember how rich life is especially for her vivid senses of smell and hearing. Thank you for commenting!

  11. 

    Reblogged this on theseeker and commented:
    A thought about blindness on pets:
    “Blindness is, boiled down to a point, only one of the senses. Yes it is a very important one, but the lack of it does not end our lives. Life goes on. We go on. Life is all about accepting the things we cannot change.”

  12. 

    What a touching story. We adopted a blind minature poodle once from the county shelter. Someone had taken her and dumped her on a busy street. She couldn’t see, and as we found out, had cancer. I can’t imagine the heart of any one who would do such a thing. Her name was Lucy. He world was turned upside down. And now she had to learn a new environment without the benefit of having learned it before she went blind. Our hearts cried for her. We had a baby monitor in the family room so she could hear our voices and we could hear her when we were upstairs for something. We took her with us and she stayed by our side. Within a couple weeks Lucy started wimpering and whining so much. The vet was angry that a shelter would sell her in this state of condition. He told us she was in a lot of pain. He was our vet for our pets and all the strays we helped. He knew what he was talking about. He said it would be more mericful to euthanize her. We did. But we were right by her side touching her as she took her last breathe.
    It is possible to help an animal learn when they are blind. Routine and not changing the furniture etc. Make a huge difference.
    Just like humans they can do quite well.
    Yisraela

    • 

      Thank you Yisraela for sharing your touching story as well. How wonderful that you saved her and gave her a loving closing to her life, to be by your side and know true kindness. I am ever so thankful that my dog is in no pain. Just the occasional bruises and bumps as she (and I) learn how to navigate her world without sight. Also, unlike your wee rescue, my dog does know her home and her yard, and our block for walks, so that is an upside. Thank you again for sharing this lovely comment. Namaste. Gina

  13. 

    This is a wonderful example how we can learn accepting things when they change. We would never accept blindess so easily as your dog. Your dog does trust you very much, and it is great how you deal with it with the new harness and new commands. Thanks for a great lesson!

    • 

      Ute, your comment makes me smile :). Thanks so much for your cheer of support. I’m glad I went online searching for a great harness, then called around, and found one easily so I didn’t have to be out for a long time. Back soon with a nice harness and out for walks with my canine daughter the day after the vets and diagnosis. Onwards and upwards! Hugs to you, Gina

  14. 

    Seems your kindness knows no bounds.

  15. 

    When I was a child I knew the expression ‘God will not give you a cross you can not carry’ to be true, but as I grew older, and my burdens grew heavier, I questioned it.

    Now I know for a fact that this is true. If a burden is to heavy for me to carry, that burden was supposed to be shared

    Xxx

    • 

      Beautifully put Barbara! Thanks for sharing. “If a burden is too heavy, it is supposed to be shared.” I love that. Thank you very much for your lovely comment. xo Gina

      • 

        I only wish that realisation dawned on me a lot earlier in life. When carrying his cross Jesus was helped, so there were clues out there 😉

  16. 

    What an amazing story. Clearly the bonds and good communication you already had in place have made this adjustment possible. Sounds like your girl is very, very smart too.

    • 

      Thanks so much! Yes I am very thankful for all the time spent developing and maintaining great recall with her, and I do appreciate what a quick learner she is. Whoever said ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ never met this one! Hugs xo

  17. 

    A very touching post Gina. Thanks for sharing it.

  18. 

    Gina, I’m so impressed on how you are responding to your dog’s sudden blindness. You remind me that there are ways to move through everything that life throws us with grace and compassion. Hugs to you, Karen

  19. 
    WordsFallFromMyEyes 06/19/2013 at 5:02 am

    Your dog is wonderful, & I agree we could learn from him. Sight is such a luxury, really.

    I love that cross and what it says: love it.

    • 

      Thank you so kindly for your supportive comment. That cross image I found online is gorgeous isn’t it? It was my favorite image of the Serenity Prayer, and I am so glad you’ve enjoyed it too. Blessings, Gina

  20. 

    Gina…touching …story…one needs courage to accept things that we cannot change…
    thanks for sharing
    take care
    sriram

  21. 

    years ago i lost my vision for 24 hours, and i now treasure my vision. the doctors were baffled and could find no reason for the loss and said that i was very lucky to have it return, because one normally does not get it back. as slowly as it faded – it returned. i now think, because of another visual mystery from five years before that one, it was linked to drinking aspartame in diet cristal lite lemonade (when i lost my vision) and lipton tea when i had mystery double vision.

    your dog surely treasures the gift of having you as a loving guide person; i wish i could witness you saying, ‘step up/step down,’ and teaching others the art of compassion.

    • 

      Oh my goodness, dear heart! I am relieved to read how your vision returned after a mysterious scare. Oh the lessons Life offers us, and how we learn to treasure the mundane every day.
      Thank you for your cheer of support, imagining her and I on our outings with my enthusiastic ‘Step up!’ to help prevent her stumbles over sidewalk curbs. It’s the ‘Step dowwwwn’ I say with lowered cadence as I tap the three stairs leading down from our house that melt my heart as she reaches out with her paw, toes extended, feeling for the step that when missed causes tumbles. We all can keep learning new ways of doing things, at any age and stage of life.
      Your visit has brightened my morning today! Thanks so much Z! Hugs 😀 ~G

  22. 

    I certainly understand your tears in the beginning — a very necessary step in the process of embracing a new reality. Your title is perfect — first your beautiful dog accepted what life had handed her, and then you reached a place of acceptance, even learning something about yourself in the process. A very touching story, and my thoughts are with you. Mark

    • 

      Mark, your comment here means so much to me, and I cannot thank you enough. I recall how you and your wife adopted a ‘rescue’ dog. Don’t they melt our hearts? Thank you also for wording it so well about this learning process for me, and how embracing this new reality has helped me reach a new, higher place of acceptance. It really is a wonderful life! All of it. 🙂 With gratitude, Gina

  23. 

    What an amazing story. Your dog is so lucky to have you to take care of her. A dog’s love is the most amazing gift. I admire you so much!

    • 

      Thank you so much! I am planning on doing another post about her and her progress soon. She is so adorable, and brave. How she runs with me in the field absolutely melts my heart – that she trusts me so much to run free, beside me, in an open grassy field (which for her is complete darkness). I love how she now uses her ears as ‘feelers’ as she traverses the house and yard, and how much pleasure she takes in little things… such as her daily bone to chew on. Thanks so much for your delightful comment my dear!

  24. 

    My family rescued an older dog in December and she has changed our lives. We are all in love and honestly cannot think of our lives without you. We are knew to “dog ownership” and don’t know of any of the challenges that might lie ahead, but the way you wrote this is beautiful. My favorite part was, (and I quote),
    “Generating angst in ourselves, gnashing our teeth and pulling our hair, looking skyward and crying out Why?! This energy needs to be allowed out, as I did during my day of crying, but then we dry ourselves off, pick ourselves up, and step up. We must let go of the grief. Things change. Life is all about change. We realize that the sun keeps rising and life goes on. Day by day.”
    Not just in this situation but in life in general. They are words I should try to listen to more frequently. Thank you for putting them into my mind, so that I can go back and reread them and realize how fortunate I really am.

    • 

      I’m so glad that you also rescued an adult dog! Yes they steal our hearts don’t they? I also cannot imagine my life without my darling dog in it. We have all adjusted quite well to her loss of sight, even the cats who have to get out of her way now (she used to go around a laying cat).
      Thank you for sharing that you liked that statement I wrote about ‘gnashing our teeth’ because it is a big part of what I believe, that yes – have all our feelings, and get it out – and then let it go. Relax and breathe gently once again. We must go with the flow of life, there really is no other way is there?
      I appreciate your visit and kind comment, and look forward to more visits together. I really enjoy your site and the stories of life with your family. I can see you are raising your sons with compassion and education, along with abundant love! How wonderful!
      Happy hugs to you from a fellow dog-lover and rescue-proponent 🙂 xo Gina